I’ve been trying to get my head around using the various software available for planning and controlling layouts, namely Templot and JMRI.
I’ve mostly figured out Templot now I think. A rough plan has been drawn as below:
I’ve been trying to figure out making it a bit more condensed (due to space restrictions) by using a crossing/slip, but haven’t quite gotten it as one bit is misaligned. Being full of cold I’m not able to concentrate now to fix it,but I’m getting there at least! I’m not 100% sure which works best at present though. Seeing as I’m going with EM Gauge, I wish to keep the number of points as low as possible as I’ve yet to attempt to build any, so the double slip/crossing might be more complex than i can manage to build. We’ll see though.
I have been looking into affordable ways to go DCC and have found the possibility of a SPROG 3 + Raspberry Pi + JMRI.
I already have a spare Raspberry Pi left over from when I upgraded to a Pi 2 for my media centre, and JMRI is free. So only the SPROG 3 (and possibly a wifi dongle and power booster) to buy at around £60, which is about affordable if I scrimp for a couple of weeks. The SPROG will also be useful as a programmer at a later date when I hope to get an NCE PowerCab.
Figuring out JMRI will take a bit more time I think, but I think I’ve partly gotten the hang of how bits of it work, but until I have some kind of controller to go with it I can’t make much more progress.
Finally I’ve made the decision that getting the boards laser cut by Tim Horn feels the best bet as I’m not really that confident of my woodworking skills, and haven’t really the space for that sort of working to some extend. The prices Tim’s quoted are affordable if I spread a module out over a few months or so at least, so I can get one board started then order another later, knowing they’ll interlink. The plan is still to keep the boards plain with all buildings and signals etc removable for safer storage. I’m thinking of getting the boards double depth to allow storage when in use for setting up items for the fiddle yard. The plan is to use cassettes rather than have a dedicated fiddle yard board made up, thus saving cost of some track.
UPDATE: It seems that a new Rapsberry Pi Model B 3 has been released, featuring same chip and graphics as the Pi 2, but with built in wifi n and bluetooth 4.0. That could well be just the ticket with JMRI and mean no need for a seperate dongle for the wifi. A bargain at £35 too!